I LOVE CARBS!
There, that’s all I need to say. I love carbs and they love me.
Blog post done…
Ok so apart from being delicious, carbs (or carbohydrates for the formal readers) play an essential role in our diets by providing us with energy. We use this energy to move, breathe, think, exercise – basically to function.
The brain uses carbohydrates as it’s main source of fuel before it switches to burning fat, which is why some people may feel dizzy or light headed when they have reduced their carb intake. This completely depends on the person, some people have no problem surviving on a low-carb diet, while others feel terrible when they reduce them; I fall into the second category!
When we exercise, our muscles take energy from our glycogen stores, but we can only store enough for an intense 90 minute session, which is why it’s crucial to stock up and eat plenty of carbs when you are exercising frequently or training for a big endurance event.
Is carb loading a real thing and can I do it everyday?!
As I’m currently training for the Leeds Half Marathon in May, I have stepped up my activity and have been completing at least one long run a week, as well as interval training, strength sessions and circuits. This is going well by the way, I’m really enjoying feeling strong and healthy once again!
As well as sticking to a good training regime, I’ve been focusing on my nutrition as well. My last blog post, where I swapped diets with Clean Eating Alice, made me really consider how the food I put into my body fuelled it and I have been trying to find a balance of healthy, filling and delcious food that will boost my training. I’ve also been pondering what kind of foods I should eat before and after race day because recovery is just as crucial as preparation.
I was contacted by Vapiano, an Italian chain that has opened in the beautiful new Corn Exchange in Manchester City Centre, and invited to come and review their dishes as part of the ‘Eat pasta run faster’ campaign. With the help of registered Dietician and Nutritionist Dr Sarah Schenker, Vapiano has created a complete diet plan to help runners get enough energy to train, without gaining any weight.
Sarah says “ ‘It’s important to balance your carbohydrate intake with plenty of protein. The delicious pasta dishes from Vapiano can be a big part of your fitness plan whether you’re a runner, cyclist, body builder or partake in any regular sport.”
Vapiano have designed three special pasta meals to boost training:
“Pasta Bolognese – delivers plenty of carbohydrate to build stores of glycogen in the liver and muscles. The beef provides high quality protein needed for muscle strength and repair. It is also a good source of easily absorbed iron needed for the transportation of oxygen in red blood cells. The tomatoes deliver beta carotene needed to protect cells from oxidative damage (increased in runners) and boost immunity.
Pasta pomodoro – tops up carbohydrate (glycogen) stores. The meal eaten the night before is crucial in delivering the last top up of glycogen to help avoid ‘hitting the wall’. Needs to be a safe easily digested meal that won’t cause any digestive problems or stomach upsets on any already nervous stomach.
Rucola ravioli (recovery meal)– glycogen stores will be depleted so carbohydrate from pasta is important to help muscles recover. There is plenty of whey protein from the ricotta which delivers special amino acids that are effective in helping to repair the muscles and prevent muscle soreness.”
So carb loading is definitely a real thing, but it doesn’t mean you should stuff your face with the entire contents of a bakery everyday, or any carb for that matter, just because you have a race in the distant future. Well you can, I’m not going to stop you, but it probably won’t make you run faster.
Manchester Corn Exchange Vapiano review
I was kindly invited to come for a meal and experience Vapiano earlier this week and let me tell you it did not disappoint, it definitely exceeded my expectations.
When you arrive you are given a card which you use to keep track of the items you order. Each person gets their own card to keep track of their own order and then when you leave you hand the card over and pay the balance. This is perfect for groups, because it eliminates the awkwardness of splitting the bill!
Vapiano is a self service restaurant and there are several different stations around the restaurant where they prepare the different types of food in front of you. You simply go up, order your food and swipe your card. Sarah, the manager informed us that all the pasta is prepared freshly everyday and everything is cooked in front of you and altered to your taste.
I was lucky enough to visit the restaurant on one of Manchester’s only sunny days so the venue looked beautiful in the last of the sunlight. It’s open plan layout, combined with the light and space of the renovated Corn Exchange, creates a peaceful atmosphere decorated with green foliage. Despite the Italian menu, the company’s German roots were evident in the sleek design.
We had the ‘grande’ antipasti to start with, which contained all of my favourite things: cheese, meat, bread, bruschetta and I added olives too. The plate was absolutely huge, they definitely do not scrimp on portion sizes! Despite sharing the starter between two people, I was feeling quite full and had to give myself a little break before I went to get my main. I would recommend getting a smaller starter if you know you want a big dinner and a desert.
For main I opted for the Salsiccia con Fichi, which is pasta with spicy Italian sausage and figs. I love sweet and savoury flavours infused, but I have to admit the figs just tasted like courgettes once they were cooked. The pasta was lovely though, I had fresh tagliatelli and once again it was very filling!
After a good 15 minute rest period, I approached the ‘Dolci’ station and tried to choose between an array of delicious desserts. I opted for the Barcio, chocolate and hazelnut on a biscuit base, decorated with hazelnuts and a strawberry. This basically tasted like the inside of a melted ferrero rocher, which as you can imagine, is amazing!
Overall the food at Vapiano was lovely and I would definitely eat there again. Although we were treated to the meal it was very affordable for what we had, and the portion sizes are huge, so it’s definitely good value for money. I can imagine it would be a good place to go to for a big lunch, rather than a fancy evening meal due to the self service aspect.
Win £1,000 to spend at Vapiano
If you visit Vapiano before the 30th April, make sure you take a picture and upload it to Instagram tagging @VapianoUk and using #MyVapiano for your chance to win a voucher of up to £1,000!
Just think how much pasta you could eat with that!!!